Monday, April 26, 2010

#47 Felix Torres

Felix (Sanchez) Torres
Third Baseman
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5' 11", Weight: 165 lb.
Born: May 1, 1932, in Ponce, P.R.
Debut: April 10, 1962 Los Angeles Angels
Final Game: October 3, 1964 Los Angeles Angels

Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels from the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1961 rule 5 draft on November 27, 1961.

Debuted in the bottom of the first as the starting 3rd baseman and handled Luis Aparicios groundout to start the inning. As the leadoff batter in the top of the 2nd he popped out to catcher Sherm Lollar against starter Juan Pizarro, and ended the day 0-4 in a 2-1 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday April 10, 1962, at White Sox Park.

1962 - 1964
Hit 27 home runs and 153 RBI with a .254 batting average but committed 52 errors in 365 games.

As the regular third baseman for the Angels from 1962 to 1964 Torres displayed better than average power hitting 11 home runs in 1962 and 12 in 1964, and hitting 32 doubles in 1963. He was almost 30 years old when he debuted with the Angels after playing in the Reds and Phillies farm systems since 1955. He retired after the 1964 season. His english wasn't very good. The book Viva Baseball! quotes an Angels trainer as saying that he once worked on Torres' left arm for a couple of days before discovering that it was the right one that was sore.

Felix Torres only baseball card is a high numbered card in the 1963 Topps series, one that I dont have.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

1961 Inaugural Season Wrap-Up

So the expansion Los Angeles Angels, like most expansion clubs were not expected to do too well in their first season, what having a bunch of cast-offs on the roster. Add to that a lengthened 162 game season and the chances of a decent record were even farther out of reach. But the Angels and Bill Rigney proved their critics wrong. They finished eighth, ahead of Washington and Kansas City, going 70-91, a record for an expansion franchise in its inaugural season.

They would play their only season at L.A.'s Wrigley Field going 46-36 at home, and setting an attendance mark of 603,510. The small dimensions of the ballpark would allow them 5 players hitting 20 or more homers: Lean Wagner with 28, Ken Hunt 25, Lee Thomas 24, Earl Averill 21 and Steve Bilko 20. The team home run total of 189 ranked them second in the league. Ken McBride would win 12 and lose 15, with 180 strikeouts, Eli Grba went 11-13 and Ted Bowsfield 11-8. Art Fowler and Tom Morgan closed out games saving 11 and 10 respectively. As a team they led the American League in strikeouts, and ranked second in saves.

Ryne Duren and Ken McBride were selected to the All-Star team and Lee Thomas was selected as a Topps Rookie All-Star.

1961 Transactions (from Extensive reading, but I like this kind of stuff.

Dick Simpson signed as an amateur free agent.
Dick Wantz signed as an amateur free agent.
January 4, 1961 Purchased Leo Burke from Washington Senators.
January 10, 1961 Rocky Bridges signed as a free agent.
January 31, 1961 Purchased Tom Morgan from Minnesota Twins.
February 1, 1961 Received Ted Bowsfield from Cleveland Indians as a replacement expansion draft pick. Returned Red Wilson to Cleveland Indians.
March 7, 1961 Jack Hiatt signed as an amateur free agent.
April 1, 1961 Mike White signed as a free agent.
Traded Jim McAnany to Chicago Cubs in exchange for Lou Johnson.
April 4, 1961 Traded Duke Maas to New York Yankees in exchange for Fritz Brickell.
April 7, 1961 Purchased Ray Semproch from Washington Senators.
April 10, 1961 Purchased Ron Kline from St. Louis Cardinals.
April 13, 1961 Traded Lou Johnson to Toronto (International) in exchange for Leon Wagner.
May 8, 1961 Traded Tex Clevenger and Bob Cerv to New York Yankees in exchange for Lee Thomas, Ryne Duren and Johnny James.
May 10, 1961 Sold Julio Becquer to Philadelphia Phillies.
May 26, 1961 Purchased Art Fowler from Los Angeles Dodgers.
June 5, 1961 Purchased Russ Heman from Cleveland Indians.
June 7, 1961 Traded Jerry Casale to Detroit Tigers in exchange for Jim Donohue.
June 10, 1961 Ned Garver released.
June 19, 1961 Purchased Joe Koppe from St. Louis Cardinals for $1000.
June 22, 1961 Traded Ken Hamlin and Russ Heman to Toronto (International) in exchange for Billy Moran.
June 26, 1961 Purchased George Thomas from Detroit Tigers.
July 3, 1961 Lost Ken Aspromonte to Cleveland Indians on waivers.
July 15, 1961 Dan Ardell signed as an amateur free agent.
July 22, 1961Tom Satriano signed as an amateur free agent.
August 10, 1961 Lost Ron Kline to Detroit Tigers on waivers.
September 8, 1961 Purchased Chuck Tanner from Cleveland Indians.
October 10, 1961 Purchased Red Witt from Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 19, 1961 Rocky Bridges released. Ted Kluszewski released. Del Rice released.

November 27, 1961 Major League Draft
Selected Bo Belinsky from Baltimore Orioles.
Selected Marlan Coughtry from Boston Red Sox.
Lost Aubrey Gatewood to New York Mets.
Selected Felix Torres from Philadelphia Phillies.

Minor League Draft
Lost Mike White to Houston Colt .45s.

December 4, 1961 Purchased Ramon Hernandez from Pittsburgh Pirates.

And so goes 1961. On to 1962!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1960 Expansion Draft Picks

1961 Nu-Card Scoops

When the Expansion Draft occurred on December 14, 1960, 28 players were selected by the Los Angeles Angels. The angels then bought an additional two (Steve Bilko and Albie Pearson) for a total of 30 original players. The players were selected in catagories starting with pitchers, then catchers, infielders, and outfielders. A coin toss for each catagory determined who picked first between the Angels and the Senators, the other expansion team. The Angels won the coin toss for all catagories except outfielders. Their first choices were Eli Grba P, Ed Sadowski C, Ed Yost INF, and then Bob Cerv OF. Of the original 28 picks by the Angels, 5 would never play a Major League game for them. Those 5 are as follows:

Duke Maas

1961 Topps

Duane Fredrick Maas
Bats: Right , Throws: Right
Height: 5' 10" , Weight: 170 lb.
Born: January 31, 1929 in Utica, NY

Drafted 3rd by the Los Angeles Angels from the New York Yankees in the 1960 expansion draft. Later traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the New York Yankees for Fritz Brickell on April 4, 1961.

1961 Topps Magic Rub-Offs

After stints with the Tigers, Athletics, and Yankees where he was a member of the 1958 World Champions, and the 1960 American League Champions, Maas was placed in the expansion draft where the Angels picked him up then flipped him back to the Yanks. He would only appear in one more game for Yankees before retiring with an ailing arm.

2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York Game-Worn Jersey

Bob Davis

1961 Topps

Robert Edward Davis
Pitcher Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 0", Weight: 170 lb.
Born: September 11, 1933 in New York.

Drafted 10th by the Los Angeles Angels from the the Kansas City Athletics in the 1960 expansion draft.

Custom Angels Expansion Draft Autograph card

Davis was 0-4 with a 5.71 ERA in stints with the Athletics at the time of the draft, so I'm not sure what the Angels saw in him, although his minor league record was a bit better at 48-49 with a 4.08 ERA. After being selected by the Angels he decided to leave baseball and return to Yale to continue persuing his degree in clynical psychology. I'm not sure why the Angels were not allowed another draft selection, as they were for Bob Wilson.

Jim McAnany

Custom Angels Expansion Draft Autograph card

James McAnany
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5' 10", Weight: 196 lb.
Born: September 4, 1936 in Los Angeles, CA

Drafted 20th by the Los Angeles Angels from the Chicago White Sox in the 1960 expansion draft.
April 1, 1961: Traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the Chicago Cubs for Lou Johnson.

After short stays with the Cubs, and the PCL San Diego Padres and Seattle Rainiers, Jim was out of baseball by 1963.

Don Ross

Donald Jon Ross
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5' 10", Weight: 180 lb.
Born: 1938

Drafted 24th by the Los Angeles Angels from the Baltimore Orioles in the 1960 Expansion Draft.

Don bounced around in the Angels minors till 1963.

Red Wilson

Custom Angels Expansion Draft Autograph card

Robert James Wilson
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5' 10", Weight: 160 lb.
Born: March 7, 1929 in Milwaukee, WI.

Selected 28th by the Los Angeles Angels from the Cleveland Indians in the 1960 Expansion Draft, but decided to retire. The selection of Bob Wilson was thus cancelled and the Angels were sent Ted Bowsfield in his place.

1991 Topps 1953 Archives

I asked Mr. Wilson if he was known for anything in particular. His response was

"Led the Detroit Tigers with 10 stolen bases one year - as a catcher!"

True-in 1958 he had 10/10 stolen bases, the next highest was Al Kaline with 7. The team total was only 48.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1961 AAA Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers

When the Major Leagues expanded in 1961 and awarded the American League franchise to Gene Autry, Autry tasked Roland Hemond with setting up a minor league system. Roland chose the Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers as the teams first AAA affiliate.

Back in 1959 when the American Association expanded, both Dallas and Fort Worth were awarded AAA teams. The two teams eventually merged in 1960 and affiliated themselves with the Kansas City Athletics, then in 1961 with the newly expanded Los Angeles Angels, and finally in a joint affiliation with the Angels and Phillies in 1962. The American Association folded after the 1962 season, and the Rangers joined the Pacific Coast League and affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. Below are some custom autograph cards of players on that original 1961 American Association AAA Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers team.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

1961 Class D Statesville Owls

When Roland Hemond was tasked with setting up the minor league system for the newly created Los Angeles Angels, he came up with the AAA Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers and the Class D Statesville NC Owls. To spare myself a lot of typing, I'll refer you to Stephen C. Smiths blog on the Angels minor leagues, and particulary his excellent research on the Statesville Owls.

Stephen held a reunion of that 1961 Statesville team and was generous enough to send me the signed team photo above. His documentation was instrumental in leading me to some of the players for autographs and correspondence noted below. Read more about the reunion here:

Three of those original Owls made it to the Major League Angels: Jack Hiatt, Dick Simpson, and Dick Wantz. I'll cover those three more when we reach their turn, In Order.

Ed Thomas was a pitcher for Statesville and went 12-5 with a 3.29 ERA for them in 1961. Ed made the jump to AAA in 1962 and stayed there until he left baseball in 1964. His response was to the Angels knocking on the door to the postseason in 2009.

Vito Porta was a third baseman/outfielder and as he noted was second in the league in RBI. He also hit .289 in 103 games in 1961. He only played one more year of D ball before leaving baseball. Vito remembered his first hit,
"Playing in Johnson City, TENN - Appalachian League, 1959. I believe it was a 3-base hit to right."

Alan Flitcraft pitched for three seasons in the Angels minor league system. I'm always moved when a former ballplayer thanks ME for remembering him. I asked Alan how he occupies his time now,
"I'm a retired college professor and former baseball coach. I work part-time, work out daily, golf, tennis, bike, and travel with my wife of 47 years."

Jerry Fox roamed the outfield for the Owls for two seasons, 1960 and 1961. Jerry wrote that in his "First year in pro ball, hit home run in bottom of 10th inning for a walk off win." I asked him what kind of glove he used and how he broke it in "Wilson A2000 - used saddle soap, tied 2 baseballs into the shape I wanted." Anyone tell me what saddle soap is?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1961 Wrigley Field

2010 Topps Heritage

Wrigley Field was the first home of the 1961 Expansion Los Angeles Angels. The field was built in 1925 by William Wrigley Jr, who owned the original Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels as well as the Chicago Cubs. The PCL Angels used the stadium for 33 seasons from 1925 to 1957 when the team and stadium were sold to Walter O'Malley and the Brooklyn Dodgers who would soon move into town. This meant the end for the PCL Angels who were forced to relocate, becoming the Spokane Indians. It's interesting that the new Los Angeles Dodgers would adopt the interlocking "LA" cap logo of the recently evicted Angels, but change the color to Dodger Blue and white.

The newly awarded franchise Angels decided to use Wrigley as their home field for their inaugural season 1961 while they awaited the completion of Chavez Ravine (the name for shared Dodger Stadium when the Angels played there). It would be their only season at Wrigley. Wrigley Field was demolished in 1966 and is now the site of a recreation facility called Gilbert Lindsay Park.
The field was bounded by Avalon Boulevard (east), 41st Street (north), 42nd Place (south), and San Pedro Street (west).

Field dimensions
Left Field - 340 ft
Left Center Field - 345 ft
Center Field - 412 ft
Right Center Field - 345 ft
Right Field - 339 ft
Backstop - 56 ft

Los Angeles Angels Wrigley Field Firsts:

MLB Game
Twins 4, Angels 2

Charlie Berry, Joe Linsalata, Frank Umont, Bob Stewart

Bill Rigney, Angels
Cookie Lavagetto, Twins

Starting Pitchers
Eli Grba, Angels
Camilo Pascual, Twins

Ceremonial Pitch
Hall of Famer Ty Cobb
National Anthem
Tony Martin

1961 Angels Wrigley Field ticket

Zoilo Versalles Twins (pop out)

Lenny Green Twins (single)

Steve Bilko Angels

Earl Averill Angels

Lenny Green Twins

Don Mincher Angels

Home Run
Earl Averill Angels

Stolen Base
Zoilo Versalles Twins

Camilo Pascual Twins

Eli Grba Angels

Ray Moore Twins

Early 60's Los Angeles Angels pennant

Saturday, April 3, 2010

1961 Broadcasters

Don Wells
1961 - 1972
Don was a World War II veteran and used the GI Bill to go to broadcasting school. He was calling games for the White Sox and Chicago Cardinals when Gene Autry hired him in 1961 to be the voice of the new Los Angeles Angels, where he stayed until 1972. Don died October 3, 2002, in Switzerland after a long illness. He was 79.

Steve Bailey
1961 - 1962
Steve Bailey was longtime producer at KMPC when the station decided to use him as an announcer for the Angels first season. He followed that up with a second season but found that his strengths were in producing. He started at the station in 1951, and produced game broadcasts for the Pacific Coast League LA Angels prior to the new MLB franchise Angels, and continued producing games for the Rams and UCLA.
Steve died November 24, 1995, of complications following treatment for lymphoma. He was 70.

Bob Kelley
Bob Kelley was the Rams broadcaster beginning in 1937 with the Cleveland Rams, and in 1946 moved with the team to Los Angeles where he continued to be thier announcer. He called PCL Angels and Hollywood Stars games at Wrigley Field and became part of the inaugural announcing team for the Angels in 1961. Bob Kelly was regarded as one of the finest football announcers of all time. In 1964 Bob suffered a heart attack during the Pro Bowl at the Colleseum, and died September 9, 1966, at the age of 49.